Commemoration of the Circumcision of the Lord Jesus
On this day, the Church celebrates the commemoration of our Lord`s circumcision.
God had ordained the law of circumcision which distinguish His people from the people of other nations. Every male from the descendant of Abraham was to be circumcised on the eighth day of his birth. God put every soul that did not keep this covenant under judgement.
As our Lord Jesus was born from the posterity of Abraham according to the flesh, He willed to be circumcised on the eighth day, to fulfil the law of Moses as St. Paul says, "Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers" (Romans 15:8).
Yet in the New Testament, He gave us a new covenant through baptism, as St. Paul says, "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Colossians 2:11-13).
Therefore, He wants from us to keep the spiritual circumcision, which is the circumcision of the heart, so that we may live for Him in righteousness and holiness. He says, "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5).
Saint Stephanos (Steven)
Stephanos (Steven) built the monastery of Khinolakkos which lies in Moudania (in Asia Minor).
Stephanos was a nobleman from the East and righteous like Job. As a young person, he loved the ascetic life and went to the monasteries and hermitages of the holy fathers which lie at river Jordan in the desert of Sts. Euthymios, Savvas and Theodosios. When he had learnt the way of life in each one of these monasteries, he went to Constantinople during the reign of Leo Isauros the iconoclast in 716
Stephanos was offered hospitality in the holy Patriarch Germanos' house with whom he stayed for some time. Later, he gathered monks and established the monastery of Khinolakkos.
Commemoration of the Parting of the Prophet Elijah
Also, on this day, we commemorate the Prophet Elijah the Tishbite who was taken away alive to heaven in a chariot of fire.
This prophet lived at the time of King Ahab. His heart was filled with sadness, for he saw the king changing from the worship of the God of Israel to the worship of idols as he was led by his wife Jezebel, who sided with the priests of Baal-Zebub. The worship of idols spread in his days.
Elijah stood before the king and said, "As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word" (1 Kings 17:1). Immediately the brooks dried up, the grass dried and a drought set in the whole land.
God did not forsake His own zealous servant. He commanded him to go to the brook Cherith and the ravens came to him everyday with bread and meat in the morning and in the evening.
"And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the LORD came to him (Elijah), saying, "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you".
So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink." And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." So she said, ""As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die." And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. "For thus says the LORD God of Israel: "The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth." So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah" (1 Kings 17:7-16).
"Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him. So she said to Elijah, "What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?" And he said to her, "Give me your son." So he took him out of her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. Then he cried out to the LORD and said, "O LORD my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?" And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the LORD and said, "O LORD my God, I pray, let this child's soul come back to him. Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived. And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his mother. And Elijah said, "See, your son lives!" (1 Kings 17:17-23).
When Jezebel knew that Elijah executed all the prophets of Baal by the sword, she threatened to kill him. Elijah had pity on himself. He arose, ran for his life and went to Mount Horeb where hid himself. The Lord talked to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" So he said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life." The Lord replied, "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him" (1 Kings 19:9-18)
When King Ahab died and King Ahaziah reigned, he did evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his father Ahab. Ahaziah fell through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria and was injured. He sent messengers to inquire from Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, whether he would recover from his injury.
Elijah met with his messengers and told them to go and tell the king, "Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Now therefore, thus says the LORD: "You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die".
And when the messengers said that to the king, he knew that it was Elijah the Tishbite. Then the king sent to Elijah a captain with his fifty men and they found him sitting on the top of a hill. And he spoke to him: "Man of God, the king has said, "Come down!" So Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, "If I am a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men." And fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.
Then the king sent to him another captain with his fifty men. And he answered and said to him: "Man of God, thus has the king said, "Come down quickly!" Again fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. Again, the king sent a third captain with his fifty men. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and pleaded with him. And the angel of the LORD said to Elijah, "Go down with him; do not be afraid of him." So he arose and went down with him to the king. Elijah rebuked the king. The king died in his bed" (2 kings 1:1-18).
After that, Elijah went to the Jordan River and he took with him Elisha his disciple. He struck the water with his mantle and the river was divided and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. While they were talking to each other, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, separated the two of them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven (2 Kings 2:1-12)
Departure of Anba Marcianus the 8th Pope of Alexandria
Also on this day, we commemorate the departure in the year 154 A.D., Anba Marcianus the 8th Pope of Alexandria.
He was born in Alexandria. When Anba Omanius, the 7th Pope of Alexandria departed, the fathers of the church and the people of Alexandria looked for a successor. By concensus they chose Marcianus for his knowledge and goodness. He reigned for 9 years, 2 months and 26 days. He continued instructing his people and guarding them from foreign teachings. When he completed his course, he departed in peace.
Departure of St. Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea
Also on this day, we commemorate the departure of St. Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea in the year 379 A.D.
His father "Isosorus" (Isidore) was a holy priest. He begot five children: St. Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia; St. Gregory of Nyssa; St. Kisarian (Cherion); St. Peter of Sebastia and St. Machrina the younger. They all lived in holiness all their lives.
Basil was instructed in rhetoric (the art or science of using words effectively in speaking and in writing), at the hands of the philosopher Libianius of Antioch, and he became a lawyer.
In the year 358 A.D. he left the world and all its glory. He travelled through the wilderness of Egypt, where he witnessed the ascetics and was influenced by them. Upon his return he withdrew to a wild and beautiful spot in Pontus and devoted himself to prayer and study. When the news of his holiness spread, many came to him and they made him their guide to lead them toward the road of perfection.
In 362 A.D. he was made a priest. He continued to teach the believers, defend the faith, and to save those who had been lost. In 370 A.D., he was ordained "Metropalitan" of Caesarea of Cappadocia, because of his boldness in the truth and for his rebuke of the emperors who conducted themselves shamefully against the doctrine and beliefs. Emperor Valens wanted to exile him, but he declined because of the death of his son. Another time, when the Emperor wanted to sign an order for his exile the pen broke in his hand, but he took another pen and that also broke. The same thing happened to a third pen. He tore the paper and left the saint to shepherd his flock and manage his church in peace.
St. Basil was filled with the Holy Spirit. He wrote the famous Liturgy that is named after him. God wrought by his hands many signs and miracles. Among them, some heretics gained control over one of the churches and decided to close it unless someone could open it with their prayers. By the prayers of this saint, the church was opened and the believers gained access to it again.
Another miracle was that St. Ephraem saw a pillar of light
between earth and heaven and heard a voice saying, "This is Basil." St. Ephraem came to the city of Caesarea and he saw the virtues of St. Basil. St. Basil ordained him a deacon.
Another miracle; a woman wrote all her sins on paper and gave it to St. Basil. He prayed for her and her sins were forgiven, except one sin. He told her to go to St. Ephraem to pray for her. When she went to the saint, he told her, "Hurry, go back to meet him before he dies." When she went back she found that he had passed away. She wept and she put the paper that she had written on his body and the written sin was blotted out.
Also a Jewish physician who was accurate in his predictions, told the saint that he would die after three days. The saint prayed for him and God prolonged his life, and he did not die on the day that he anticipated. He believed and was baptized with all in his household.
Again, a young man wrote a covenant with the devil to deny his Christianity and his baptism. Through the prayers of the saint the young man was saved from the servitude of the devil.
This saint had many virtues and he performed many miracles. He wrote autobiographies of the saints, articles, homilies, and instructions for the ascetics. He drew up Canons which still exist today.
Glory be to God forever. Amen.